OCZ Agility 4 256GB w/ 1.5 Firmware
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Recently we took a close look at the brand new OCZ Technologies Agility 4 128GB solid state drive (here). Today we bring you an in-depth review of the almost the same drive, just a larger capacity, the OCZ Technologies Agility 4 256GB SSD. The smaller version we previously reviewed turned out to be a drive with great incompressible write performance despite the use of asynchronous NAND. Incompressible write performance is definitely an area where the Agility 4 is a step forward in comparison to the Agility 3. Certain areas of read performance though, just did not deliver the kind of performance we were expecting.
When it comes to solid state drives, capacity equals performance for the most part. With LSI SandForce Driven SATA drives performance climbs as capacity goes up, typically until the 240GB drive size where, performance is maximized. Marvell based drives are a little different though. Drives based on Marvell Silicon, like the OCZ Technologies Agility 4 we are reviewing today follow a different performance path. As of now, the performance of drives based on Marvell silicon reach a maximum at about the 512GB size. With this in mind, we wanted to see if the larger OCZ Agility 4 256GB drive would bring with it better performance, along with increased capacity as would normally be the case. The Agility 4 performance specifications as given by OCZ show the 256GB Agility 4 to indeed have higher performance than the 128GB model we just reviewed.
We saw the Agility 4 128GB suffer from a lack of sequential small file single thread read performance. For those of you that don’t know the OCZ Agility 4 utilizes the very same Indilinx Infused Everest II flash processor as OCZ’s flagship model the Vertex 4. There have been a number of performance enhancing firmware updates for the Indilinx Infused Everest II flash processor. These firmware updates most notably, the 1.4 firmware have had a very positive transforming effect upon the Vertex 4 128GB, not only doubling the write performance, but substantially increasing sequential small file single threaded read performance as well. We were hoping that the newer firmware would carry increased sequential small file read performance through to the Agility 4 128GB. Unfortunately it did not. It seems reasonable that it would considering the Vertex 4 and the Agility 4 both utilize the exact same Everest II flash processor and even have the same firmware revisions. I feel sequential small file read performance is the main area OCZ needs to enhance the performance of the Everest II flash processor. This is the reason performance of both the Vertex 4 and Agility 4 suffers so much when testing with HD Tune and Vantage. The Agility 4 more so than the Vertex 4 due in part to the asynchronous NAND on board.
Today is another day that brings with it a different capacity OCZ Agility 4 and a different firmware as well. Our hope is that the combination of a higher capacity, higher performing drive along with a brand new beta firmware will go a long way toward addressing the read issues we spoke of. We know for sure the larger capacity Agility 4 will certainly give us phenomenal write performance just like the smaller capacity Agility 4 did. Like we’ve stated in the previous reviews, the Everest II has no equal when it comes to incompressible write performance. This drive will be no exception. Our question is, what’s the sequential small file read performance going to look like? Let’s dive right in and find out.